After School Program keeps on growing

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For working parents, finding childcare for the hours between the end of the school day and the end of the work day can be a challenge. The Winters After School Program strives to meet that need for as many families in the community as possible.

The Winters After School Program, which began in 2006 and provides homework assistance and enrichment activities to first through fifth graders, is hoping to expand in the next few years. Nicole Jordan Halley, the program’s founder, is excited about what the program can become.

While looking for ways to support as many students and families as possible, Halley has been thrifty with the funds that the after school program receives from grants and community donations. The grant that they receive is supposed to only cover 88 students, but Jordan and her team have been able to stretch the money out to provide after school care for 100 children. Even so, Jordan says, the program has a long waitlist every year.

“We can’t serve all the kids we need to,” Jordan says, but she is committed to applying for grants that with help the program expand. Currently the program is funded through an After School Education and Safety Program grant, through the California Department of Education and with the cooperation of the City of Winters and the Winters School District.

Jordan is hoping that within the next two years, they will be able to apply for a sister grant that will allow the program to expand to the kindergarten classes.

Once the final bell rings and the after school program begins, students get the time and assistance that they need to work on their homework, receive a nutritious snack and have time for free play.

For the most part, students in the after school program are separated by grade level, though Jordan cautions that this is not always a guarantee. If, for example, there were only three fifth graders enrolled, the teachers would group them with another class of the appropriate level.

Beyond homework completion and correction, the instructors also teach school enrichment, based on their grade level.

“We do specific curriculum geared toward those grades and get them what they need,” Jordan says, often in conversation with the child’s teacher.

This enrichment includes science related activities on Fridays, visits from the Sacramento Zoo’s animal ambassadors and various field trips.

Next year, Jordan is planning to add nutrition lessons to the curriculum.

“We have these wonderful gardens,” Jordan says, and she hopes the after school instructors will be able to use them to their advantage.

Students enrolled in the program are taught by a staff of instructors with backgrounds in child development. The after school program also enlists volunteers from RISE and high school interns, assigning one volunteer to each classroom. When looking for volunteers, Jordan likes to involve people who went through the program as students.

“We like to have them come in, they get experience with kids,” Jordan says, and adds that the program is always looking to welcome new volunteers.

Sign-ups for the Winters After School Program began on Tuesday, May 1. Registration packets are available in all Winters After School Program classrooms, and the front offices of Waggoner Elementary and Shirley Rominger Intermediate School. Packets must be returned to Winters City Hall.

Tuition is $25 a month for families who qualify for free lunch, $50 for those who qualify from reduced lunch and $100 for those who do not qualify for the lunch program through the school district.

Those who are interested in making a donation to the program can make checks payable to City of Winters-Winters After School Program, and mail them to City of Winters-WASP, 318 First Street.


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